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World Music Day: the origins of the movement

A great international event that has been ongoing for more than a quarter of a century, will take place also this year in many countries of the world, including Italy. On June 21, the World Music Day is one of the most important cultural festivals that has ever been established. Where is the festival? Everywhere. It can take place almost anywhere you want. This is the philosophy of the very first edition, whereby the French Ministry of Culture, Maurice Fleuret, composer, journalist, music critic and one of the initiators of this festival who opened the dances and said: "Music everywhere, the concert nowhere."
Organically, in squares, commonplaces, schools, museums, streets and even in the airports, music will be the protagonist of a strong message of universal accessibility, of invitation to a journey of communion and communication among every people and culture. All seasoned with the fundamental meaning attributed to the date, the Summer Solstice, the literally longest day of the year, of which we often forget the intrinsic importance anchored in history, even of ancient civilizations. So, here we propose to relive this journey through a history full of meanings and ideas.

The origins of the Music Festival

The true creative spark of this event manifested itself in 1976. It's the American Joël Cohen, then producer for the radio channel France-Musique, to conceive the idea with its "Saturnals of Music". Cohen proposes a nightly opening of the radio broadcast on June 21 and December 21, the day of the solstice in summer and winter respectively, inviting all musicians, professionals and amateurs, to go down the streets and play spontaneously. The project is being carried out in Toulouse and Paris, the June 21, 1976: during the longest night of the year, the radio spreads a capture of these live events.

In 1982, a major investigation into the cultural practices of the French, conducted by the Ministry of Culture, shows that 5 million people (including one in two young people) play a musical instrument, but only a small part of these are involved in the musical event.
From these deductions, Maurice Fleuret, music critic and new Director of Music and Dance to the Ministry of Culture led by Jack Lang, invites the government to take into account the musical culture growing in the country.

Resuming the concept of Coen and evoking a sort of "democratization sound", Fleuret imagines a great popular event that allows the whole landscape varied, multi-ethnic and multidisciplinary to be known and valued. The first Fête de la Musique is proposed from 20.30 to 21.00 on 21 June 1982, a symbolic day, which recalls pagan rites and the ancient tradition of the Feasts of St. John.

Music will be everywhere and the concert nowhere! The festival will be free, open to all and without hierarchies of musical genres and practices.

The invitation is loudly accepted and the half an hour of music planned by the Ministry is abundantly received crossed. The French slogan was conceived in 1983, "Faites de la musique!" which means "Make music!" from an homophony of the title of the festival itself (the words Fête and Faites in French are pronounced at the same way). In short, a double encouragement, create the music and live it, and from these "simple" instructions you can produce important results.

Thanks to the organization of numerous free concerts a much wider audience can finally access all sorts of musical genres (classical music, jazz, rock, world music, rap, traditional music...). In addition, new talents and genres are emerging "popular", which can get out of their usual "ghetto", such as rap, hip hop or even the music of the African and Antilles minority, but also traditional regional music renewed in a game of influences and experiments.

Since its launch, success has never been denied. Only in France does the organisation allow each year of 18,000 sound events, for about 5 million musicians, attracting more than 10 million spectators. The first developments in some of European countries took place in 1985 during the European Year of Music, the festival begins to be a real social phenomenon. The event takes on an international dimension in 1995, the year in which a true Charter was established. European Music Festival, in order to testify, through common principles, the will to promote a better understanding of the artistic realities in the various acceding countries and to strengthen exchanges between European musicians. Berlin, Budapest, Barcelona, Istanbul, Liverpool, Luxembourg, Rome, Naples, Prague, the French community in Belgium, Santa Maria da Feria, sign the Charter of Fundamental Principles, among which respect is mentioned of the free celebration and date: in all member countries, the European Music Festival takes place on 21 June.

Why on 21st of June?

Astronomy generally fixes Summer Solstice on this date. From an astronomical point of view, the solstice - from the Latin Sol, Sun, and -Sisting, stopping - is the moment when the Sun reaches, in its path along the ecliptic (i.e. its apparent path) the point of maximum or minimum declination. In other words, in our hemisphere, 21 June gives us as many hours of light as possible in the space of a day, because the Sun reaches its highest point on the horizon. The phenomenon derives from the natural inclination of the Earth in relation to the plane on which it rotates around the Sun.
The axis of rotation of the Earth and the plane of the orbit are not in fact perpendicular, but meet with an angle of about 23.5 degrees, an asymmetry that from Earth generates the apparent motion of the Sun in the heavens during the course of the year. The solstice is delayed by about 6 hours each year because of the so-called "precession of the equinoxes", the displacement of the axis around which the earth performs its daily rotation, but returns to the point of departure every 4 years, in the leap year that rearranges things (artifice invented to avoid the progressive deviation between the Gregorian calendar and the astronomical calendar). Without this asymmetry, then, we will not know the seasons. From June 22nd, the peak of the Sun will start again to move further south, and the days, which until today had gradually lengthened, will resume to shorten, officially marking the period of the year which scientists call the astronomical summer and which will culminate around 21 December with the winter solstice.

The solstice, the lights of summer and the magic of the sun

For millennium the summer solstice has been considered a special day and has taken on many meanings which are symbolical generating a multitude of pagan and religious rites linked to the cycles of agriculture and nature. Metaphorically on this day the sun wins over darkness, since the time interval separating the sunset and sunrise can exceed 16 hours. Astrology considers it the most favourable moment to turn to the deepest dimension of oneself and to rediscover contact with nature. In ancient times, in fact, the solstice was celebrated as a moment of connection with the sun and with the the divine element. Our ancestors were not governed by conventions, but by the seasons of the harvest and the need to store food for the future winter months. Survival depended on their attention to weather events, for good or bad harvests, from swelling or sagging of the ocean for good or bad fishing days. The summer solstice was the time of the first harvest and its celebration was carried out for hundreds of years. The day lasted a long time and the party lasted until late at night, with music, dances, food, mead, wine and happiness. The Sun, brought life to the growing crops on the field and warmed the arms of the workers who worked there.

Today some sacred sites around the world attract large crowds of people, who gather to honour the summer solstice. It is considered for example that among the reasons that led to the construction of the mysterious circle of stones of Stonehenge in England, there was just to pay homage and study solstices and equinoxes. Some theories claim that the monoliths were erected following the alignment of the rays of the first sun emerging on the day of the summer solstice, the latter in fact through a trilith and illuminates the central altar of the archaeological site: a "sign" that allowed the ancient to identify the passage of the seasons. Every year thousands of people, tourists, curious, veterans of pagan worship or lovers of summer, find themselves challenging the night to wait for the first rays of sun. Dances and historical re-enactments that recall the Middle Ages enliven for 2 days this famous archaeological site.

The period between 21 and 25 June is still celebrated in midsummer rituals in many countries such as Sweden, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, France, United Kingdom and Greece. When night approaches, the fires burn in honour of the sun. A moment to strengthen the link between man, the Sun, the earth and its creatures. In many countries, a popular feast resulting from the rites of the solstice, is known under the name of Feast of St. John. The importance that the sun holds for pagan civilizations has motivated the Christian faith to choose the date of 24 June as the day of birth of Saint John the Baptist, the preacher who baptized Jesus. The fusion of pagan and religious traditions has shaped the most varied forms of rituals linked to the theme of rebirth and the new beginning. The period is also favourable for the collection of wild herbs and medicinal plants, since the energy of the sun brings you vigour and power, for example the lemon balm and the St. John's wort.

The World Music Day in the World

With the World Music Day are added artistic movements to these popular festivals, resulting from the evolution of rites and traditions, the importance of summer, the internationalization of art and music as synonym of expression and rhythm of our daily life. In 2017, the Music Festival, is spread in over 120 countries spread over five continents. In the United States, the music festival of the city of New York was initiated by Aaron Friedman and celebrated for the first time in 2007 under the name "Make Music New York". In Sweden, the festival is called "Make Music STHLM". The first edition takes place in 2010 with 35 groups represented in the streets of Stockholm. In many cities the festival lasts a few days, as in Geneva where it takes place throughout the weekend of 21 June.

In France, the editions have a different theme each year, to name a few: "Music without a borders" (2000), the "Francophonie" (2006), "Youth" (2007), "The centenary celebration of the Film music (2008), "Female music" (2010). Given the scale of the participation, the diversity of exhibitions, the internationalization of the festival, was created a coordination, the ADCEP (Association pour le Développement de la Création, Etudes et Projets) that in addition to the Festival of Music in France, is responsible for European coordination in close contact with Brussels. In Italy, the 2018 edition proposes the title "Hymn to Joy", a clear reference to Beethoven's symphony. which has become the European anthem, expressing in the universal language of music the ideals of freedom, peace and solidarity between people.

In short, as you will have understood, the World Music Day is closely linked to the celebration of the solstice in summer. A feast full of symbols, a moment of catharsis, of suspension. An Invitation to Move away worries and live a little bit of poetry. Music is one of the means, the universal language, to participate in the positive impulse of the encounter between different cultures and social contexts. Let this day be your day, charge yourself with energy positive. June 21 is a separate moment, reminding us that life comes from the Sun, that we are all dependent on this magnificent ball of gas, and for a day we can celebrate it, as we want it, where we want, witnessing the beginning of the "dream time", of rebirth and of the new beginning.

Explore the medicinal and aromatic plants of the season or start your own garden on the balcony, prepare a dinner based on nature products, organize a meeting between friends, participate in to a bonfire, look at the stars, express a desire. Or again, since the occasion coincides with the World Yoga Day, try to practice the salutation to the sun as a moment of well-being and as a way to symbol auspicious for a day of the year so particular. Sometimes, it takes little to start the summer well. If you can’t go to Stonehenge, just look for the rite that suits you the most, the place that you feel your most, let the music stimulate you and why not, invent your rite! Or your music. We hope you have wonderful dreams, fruitful harvests, and find the wellness you are looking for during this Summer Solstice.

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